Twelve Minor Prophets

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The Minor Prophets or Twelve Prophets (Aramaic: תרי עשר‎, Trei Asar, "Twelve") (Ancient Greek: δωδεκαπρόφητον, "the Twelve Prophets"), occasionally Book of the Twelve, is the last book of the Nevi'im, the second major division of the Jewish Tanakh.

In the Christian Old Testament, the collection is broken up to form twelve individual Books of the Bible, one for each of the prophets: the Book of Hosea, of Joel, of Amos, of Obadiah, of Jonah, of Micah, of Nahum, of Habakkuk, of Zephaniah, of Haggai, of Zechariah, and of Malachi.

The name "Minor Prophets" goes back apparently to St. Augustine,[1] who distinguished the 12 shorter prophetic books as prophetae minores from the four longer books of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.

It is not known when these short works were collected and transferred to a single scroll, but the first extra-biblical evidence for the Twelve as a collection is c. 190 BCE in the writings of Jesus ben Sirach,[2] and evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests that the modern order of the Tanakh, which would potentially include the twelve, had been established by 150 BCE.[3] It is believed that initially the first six were collected, and later the second six were added; the two groups seem to complement each other, with Hosea through Micah raising the question of iniquity, and Nahum through Malachi proposing resolutions.[4]


Many, though not all, modern scholars agree that the editing process which produced the Book of the Twelve reached its final form in Jerusalem during the Achaemenid period (538–332 BCE), although there is disagreement over whether this was early or late.[5] Scholars usually assume that there exists an original core of prophetic tradition behind each book which can be attributed to the figure after whom it is named.[6] The noteworthy exception is the Book of Jonah, an anonymous work containing no prophetic oracles, which Katherine Dell holds was probably composed in the Hellenistic period (332–167 BCE).[7]

In general, each book includes three types of material:

  • Autobiographical material in the first person, some of which may go back to the prophet in question;
  • Biographical materials about the prophet in the third person – which incidentally demonstrate that the collection and editing of the books was completed by persons other than the prophets themselves;
  • Oracles or speeches by the prophets, usually in poetic form, and drawing on a wide variety of genres, including covenant lawsuit, oracles against the nations, judgment oracles, messenger speeches, songs, hymns, narrative, lament, law, proverb, symbolic gesture, prayer, wisdom saying, and vision.[8]

The comparison of different ancient manuscripts indicates that the order of the individual books was originally fluid. The arrangement found in current Bibles is roughly chronological. First come those prophets dated to the early Assyrian period: Hosea, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah; Joel is undated, but it was possibly placed before Amos because parts of a verse near the end of Joel (3.16 [4.16 in Hebrew]) and one near the beginning of Amos (1.2) are identical. Also we can find in both Amos (4.9 and 7.1–3) and Joel a description of a plague of locusts. These are followed by prophets that are set in the later Assyrian period: Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. Last come those set in the Persian period: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, although some scholars date "Second Zechariah" to the Hellenistic Era.[9] However it is important to note that chronology was not the only consideration, as "It seems that an emphatic focus on Jerusalem and Judah was [also] a main concern.[2] For example, Obadiah is generally understood as reflecting the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.[10] and would therefore fit later in a purely chronological sequence.

Sequence of books

In the Hebrew Bible, these works were counted as one anthology. The works are commonly studied together, and are consistently ordered in Jewish, Protestant and Catholic Bibles. Though their order in the Vulgate is the same as in the Hebrew Bible, in many Christian Bibles they are ordered according to the Septuagint. The books are in rough chronological order, according to explicit statements within the books themselves.

The twelve books are:
Order Orthodox
Book Age
1 1 Hosea (Osee) 8th century BCE (before the fall of the Northern Kingdom)
2 4 Joel (Disputed)
3 2 Amos 8th century BCE (before the fall of the Northern Kingdom)
4 5 Obadiah (Abdias) (Disputed)
5 6 Jonah (Jonas) (Disputed)
6 3 Micah (Micheas) 8th century BCE (before the fall of the Northern Kingdom)
7 7 Nahum 7th century BCE (before the fall of the Southern Kingdom)
8 8 Habakkuk (Habacuc) 7th century BCE (before the fall of the Southern Kingdom)
9 9 Zephaniah (Sophanias) 7th century BCE (before the fall of the Southern Kingdom)
10 10 Haggai (Aggeus) 6th century BCE (after return from exile)
11 11 Zechariah (Zacharias) 6th century BCE (after return from exile)
12 12 Malachi (Malachias) 5th century BCE (after return from exile)

Christian commemoration

In the Roman Catholic Church, the twelve minor prophets are read in the Tridentine Breviary during the fourth and fifth weeks of November, which are the last two weeks of the liturgical year, before Advent.

In Year 1 of the modern Lectionary, Haggai, Zechariah, Jonah, Malachi, and Joel are read in weeks 25–27 of Ordinary Time. In Year 2, Amos, Hosea, and Micah are read in weeks 14–16 of Ordinary Time. In Year 1 of the two-year cycle of the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, Micah 4 and 7 are read in the third week of Advent; Amos, Hosea, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habakkuk are read in weeks 22–29 of Ordinary Time. In Year 2, Haggai and Zechariah 1–8 are read in weeks 11–12 of Ordinary Time; Obadiah, Joel, Malachi, Jonah, and Zechariah 9–14 are read in Week 18.

They are collectively commemorated in the Calendar of Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on July 31.

See also


  1. Augustine (1866). Civ. 18.29: Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum (Vienna 1866–). 40.2.306.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Zvi 2004, pp. 1139–42
  3. Redditt 2003, p. 1.
  4. Coggins & Han 2011, p. 4.
  5. Redditt 2003, pp. 1–3, 9.
  6. Floyd 2000, p. 9.
  7. Dell 1996, pp. 86–89.
  8. Coogan 2009.
  10. Ben Zvi 2004, pp. 1193–94.

Further reading

  • Achtemeier, Elizabeth R. & Murphy, Frederick J. The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. VII: Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature, Daniel, The Twelve Prophets (Abingdon, 1996)
  • Cathcart, Kevin J. & Gordon, Robert P. The Targum of the Minor Prophets. The Aramaic Bible 14 (Liturgical Press, 1989)
  • Chisholm, Robert B. Interpreting the Minor Prophets (Zondervan, 1990)
  • Coggins, Richard; Han, Jin H (2011). Six Minor Prophets Through the Centuries: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-44434279-6.
  • Coogan, Michael D (2009). A brief introduction to the Old Testament. Oxford University Press.
  • Dell, Katherine J (1996). "Reinventing the Wheel: the Shaping of the Book of Jonah". In Barton, John; Reimer, David James (eds.). After the exile: essays in honour of Rex Mason. Mercer University Press. ISBN 978-0-86554524-3.
  • Feinberg, Charles L. The Minor Prophets (Moody, 1990)
  • Ferreiro, Alberto (ed). The Twelve Prophets. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Inter-Varsity Press, 2003)
  • Floyd, Michael H (2000). Minor prophets. 2. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802844521.
  • Hill, Robert C. (tr). Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Prophets Vol 3: Commentary on the Twelve Prophets (Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2007)
  • of Mopsuestia, Theodore; Hill, Robert C, tr (2004). "Commentary on the Twelve Prophets". The Fathers of the Church. Catholic University of America. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • House, Paul R. The Unity of the Twelve. JSOT Supplement Series, 97 (Almond Press, 1990)
  • Jones, Barry Alan. The Formation of the Book of the Twelve: a Study in Text and Canon. SBL Dissertation Series 149 (Society of Biblical Literature, 1995)
  • Keil, Carl Friedrich. Keil on the Twelve Minor Prophets (1878) (Kessinger, 2008)
  • Longman, Tremper & Garland, David E. (eds). Daniel–Malachi. The Expositor's Bible Commentary (Revised ed) 8 (Zondervan, 2009)
  • McComiskey, Thomas Edward (ed). The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary (Baker, 2009)
  • Navarre Bible, The: Minor Prophets (Scepter & Four Courts, 2005)
  • Nogalski, James D. Literary Precursors to the Book of the Twelve. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (Walter de Gruyter, 1993)
  • Nogalski, James D; Sweeney, Marvin A, eds. (2000). Reading and Hearing the Book of the Twelve. Symposium. Society of Biblical Literature.
  • Petterson, Anthony R., ‘The Shape of the Davidic Hope across the Book of the Twelve’, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 35 (2010), 225–46.
  • Phillips, John. Exploring the Minor Prophets. The John Phillips Commentary Series. (Kregel, 2002)
  • Redditt, Paul L (2003). "The Formation of the Book of the Twelve". In Redditt, Paul L; Schart, Aaron (eds.). Thematic threads in the Book of the Twelve. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11017594-3.
  • Roberts, Matis (ed). Trei asar: The Twelve Prophets: a New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic, and Rabbinic Sources (Mesorah, 1995–)
  • Rosenberg, A.J. (ed). The Twelve Prophets: Hebrew Text and English Translation. Soncino Books of the Bible (Soncino, 2004)
  • Schart, Aaron (1998). "Die Entstehung des Zwölfprophetenbuchs. Neubearbeitungen von Amos im Rahmen schriftenübergreifender Redaktionsprozesse". Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (in German) (260). Walter de Gruyter. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  • Shepherd, Michael B. "The Twelve Prophets in the New Testament" (Peter Lang, 2011)
  • Slavitt, David R. (tr). The Book of the Twelve Prophets (Oxford University Press, 1999)
  • Smith, James E. The Minor Prophets. Old Testament Survey (College Press, 1994)
  • Stevenson, John. Preaching From The Minor Prophets To A Postmodern Congregation (Redeemer, 2008)
  • Walton, John H. (ed). The Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Zondervan, 2009)
  • Zvi, Ehud Ben (2004). "Introduction to The Twelve Minor Prophets". In Berlin, Adele; Brettler, Mark Zvi (eds.). The Jewish Study Bible. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19529751-5.
Preceded by
Hebrew Bible


Preceded by
Christian Old Testament End of Old Testament
New Testament begins with

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